Death toll in Parachinar and Quetta attacks passes 80

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claims twin blasts at Parachinar market, as death toll from three separate attacks on Friday hits 85.

    The number of people killed in twin bombings in the northwestern Pakistani city of Parachinar has risen to at least 67, bringing the overall death toll from three separate attacks across the country on Friday to 85, officials said.

    Shahid Khan, a local government official, said the toll could rise as many of the victims remained in critical condition on Saturday.

    More than 200 people were wounded in the rush-hour attacks on Parachinar's Toori Bazar, he told local media.

    Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni armed group, claimed the bombings in the predominantly Shia Muslim town.

    Earlier on Friday, a suicide bombing at a police checkpoint in Quetta, in Balochistan province, killed at least 14 people, at least 10 of whom were police officers, the AFP news agency said.

    Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistan Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.

    In yet another incident on Friday, armed men in the port city of Karachi, in Sindh province, attacked police officers at a roadside restaurant and killed four of them before fleeing, Asif Ahmed, a senior police officer, told the Associated Press news agency.

     

    Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's prime minister, ordered security to be tightened across the country after the attacks.

    "Terrorists are attacking soft targets and no Muslim can ever imagine to commit such horrific act," he said in a statement.

    "Such acts of terrorism will be dealt with the full power of the state."

    Zoha Waseem, a researcher at King's College in London, criticised what she called Pakistan's "ad hoc" and "reactionary response to terrorism", saying it only served to increase the appeal of armed groups.

    Government policy of granting sweeping powers to security forces and increasing surveillance "severely impinge on civil rights," she told Al Jazeera. 

    "They are not preventive. They breed and exacerbate existing grievances in Pakistan", she said, adding that such measures meant armed groups "will always find a pool of recruits, because they [public] are targeted by the state".

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    Parachinar is the capital of Kurram, one of Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous tribal districts that are governed according to local laws and customs.

    Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from the capital Islamabad, said a state of emergency was declared in Parachinar following the double bombing.

    "The military sent two helicopters from Peshawar to ferry the ones that are in need of help," he said.

    The blasts in the city came on the final Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan, just days before Eid-al-Fitr, one of Islam's holiest festivals.

    The third major attack to hit Parachinar this year, the explosions occurred just hours before iftar, when the streets are often crowded with people shopping for food to break their fast with the evening Ramadan meal.

    "This happened on the last Friday of Ramadan, just a few days to go before the Eid holiday, so most of the people who were the victims in Parachinar were ordinary shoppers going about their shopping routines and possibly buying gifts for Eid," Hyder said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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